Abundant fossils and DNA sequences indicate that life on Earth has evolved from ancient beginnings. All organisms are genetically related. In sorting through key evidence we will learn about the mechanisms responsible for the vast variety of creatures and their adaptive skills. It is useful, indeed essential, to inherit genes that favor survival and reproduction, but we all harbor some losers. We will grapple with gene structure and function at a level where non-scientists who apply themselves should do well in this seminar. Our survey will conclude with a more personal look at primate evolution. I, myself, am 2.6% Neanderthal. There will be a textbook.
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First-year students. This course requires a semester each of high school chemistry and biology.